Up to now you would never have known about the Greece Euro exit discussion from the ground. Shops took credit cards as usual, people looked warm as usual, tourists enjoyed everything Greece has to offer as usual.
Today feels different. I started the day settling the remainder of my hotel bill in cash. The supermarket only took cash, so did the pharmacy. Banks are closed for the week they tell me. I have a suspicion those credit card machines work just fine, in reality the Greeks want tourists to give them cash. It may have something to do with the Finance minister overnight announcement that tourists will not, for the foreseeable future, be subjected to the €60 a day withdraral limit Greeks ought to abide to. I cannot blame the locals for being cautious, wanting to hang on to the paer rather than trust electronic funds, if I were them I would do the same.
I moved hotels today and encountered amazing hospitality from the hosts! True generous, kind natured people, going out of their way to make you feel happy. They are worried, everyone around seems a bit more uneasy, yet in this corner of Mykonos everyone is better off than most Greeks, so perhaps this is not the most representative corner of the country. Out of my patio I can survey a blue golf swarming with private yachts, there is a beach party going on, my hostess tells me the locals are determined to ensure tourism is unaffected as they have already started getting some cancellations from weary Europeans.
I wish them luck but I feel a bit sad myself. The day is beautiful and the place marvelous, but I feel a bit like someone having a party while the neighbours have a wake.
If you care to see how bad it is for some Greeks at the moment the link below is quite instructional:
Anyone with a TV, at least in Europe, should by now be aware that Greece is fighting to renegotiate it’s mandatory payment to its bailout creditors – the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and European Commission by 30 June…or else. Intense negotiations in Brussels for the past week or so have reached no mutually satisfying compromise. The Greeks are trying to avert the imposition of tax and pensionable age increases, which will further kneel it’s poverty descending people. The creditors want guarantees before choking up more money…? The latest is that an agreement needs to be reached by Monday, as Germany is fearful of the effect any further delay may have on the unstable, bouncing Euro. Here in Greece and all over Europe there’s talk of Grexit, the possible EU departure of Greece, a return to the drachma, nationalising banks…pandemonium. The Greeks are fearful for their future but fed-up with Europe and crave a return to a more autonomous democracy. Europe is fed-up with Greece the unreliable borrower. Who’s right? Probably both. Who gets the blame? Both should. The Greeks don’t want to raise the pension age citing the 25% unemployment rate and general near poverty of it’s pensioners. But it is workers paying for the national pension funds, so, common sense entails, longer working lives would mean greater (though later) pensions. EU do not see the argument, Greeks do not grasp deferred rewards as a functioning system…. I’m no politician or international fund manager but how could anyone hope that Greece and Germany would ever see the world the same way to begin with? The EU utopians had been so utterly oblivious to differences in perception, ethos, way of life and priorities among the peoples of Europe. How could they be so blind? The North take life as seriously as a megalithic construction, rise early, work hard, save money, live a structured, mostly rational existence by the clock they invented and manufacture so faultlessly….The South live on a different temporal scale… A proverb present in slightly different versions all around the Mediterranean basin speaks to the mañana symptom ever present here, and says something like ‘don’t do today what you can do tomorrow’. Southerners want relatively little out of life because they are driven mostly by the appreciation of pause and sentiment: life is to be tasted not rushed through, a simple existence shared with friends and family is more precious than success and material possessions. Of course this is a huge overgeneralization, and not all Greeks are Zorbas just as not all Germans are Merkels. But there are evident trends and fundamental differences between Northern and Southern European people just as there are differences in the landscape, fauna, weather, shade of the blue of the sky and variety of birds who bother to sing in the morning across this continent. It’s not a natural expectation to think all people share the same view of life and are happy with the same thing. So what is really the surprise about Greece vs German run EU at the moment? Could it ever have been any other way? If Greece exits, next it will be Spain, Portugal, possibly Italy. Then there will probably be a Northern EU and a Southern EU, and maybe this is how it should have been all along. Yet are we all so different? Ever-since I have arrived in Greece the predominant language around is German….more German-speaking tourists can be encountered sipping the Greek drinks, soaking in the Greek sunshine, enjoying the food, the sights and the sea than any other EU nation. And they enjoy it all with the same gusto as the locals do. In the beginning of the season German newspapers ran stories around a possible Greek backlash against German tourists…”spit in the ouzo”, they called it, disgusting, I know, but a legitimate fear in a way. Yet no such thing is happening. Greek people are wise enough to know it’s governments, representatives of national assets and average societal views, rather than individual people, that are responsible for the current ideology clash. They’re nice and hospitable to the German-speaking tourists just as they are welcoming to all tourists. For in the end, in those moments when we choose to enjoy life, we all appreciate the same simple things.